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Talented and Gifted (TAG) Testing

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: If a child TAG test was:

95% on Quant/Cogat** needed a 96%***
97% Creativity
Achiev 94% reading
Math 96%
Motivation 62% needed a 90%***

Do you have any recommendations on how best to retest him so he can get into the TAG program? He needs * a Yes in one of the two areas above***

He is in 1st grade, but was moved up to the 2nd grade Math class. He was evaluated in motivation by a 1st grade teacher- should he be evaluated by his 2nd grade Math teacher?

Is Motivation a matter of opinion or is it a test?

Would the student with these scores be automatically given another assessment given that he is 1% point behind in Cogat and well above in Creativity, Total Reading and Total Math? Thank you!

A: Briefly for all readers, the TAG Test program is an academic program that caters to meet the needs of excelling and above average students. Students are required to qualify in three out of four main categories as the following:

  • Mental Ability – 96th or higher percentile composite OR appropriate component score on a nationally normed mental ability (IQ) test.

  • Achievement – 90th or higher percentile Total Reading, Total Math, or Complete.
    Battery/Composite on a nationally normed achievement test OR above level continuous achievement level as determined by the system.

  • Creativity – 90th or higher percentile composite score on a standardized test of creative thinking (Torrence Test of Creative Thinking).

  • Motivation – above level continuous achievement level as determined by the system; or 90%+ on the Motivation Ratings Scale

Mental ability (“IQ”) and Creativity scores are considered valid for a period of two years. However, achievement test scores can change from year to year depending on the whether an achievement test is scheduled to be administered at the child's grade level. Motivation scores can also change if the child's reading and math levels change and need to be updated. A qualifying score for motivation is valid for two years but it may be re-administered after one year by another teacher (but only if the child is referred again for TAG testing). In this child's case, he should be evaluated by a different teacher, possibly his 2nd grade math teacher.

Motivation refers to a child's desire to achieve a goal or complete self-selected tasks. It is not a distinct type of giftedness but rather demonstrated by the energy that drives a child to achieve. Motivation is neither a matter of opinion nor a test; rather it is a rating scale done objectively using a motivation rating scale, which is completed by a teacher. It is based upon a child's motivational behaviors in an academic setting. The teacher completing the scale is usually selected by the local school TAG Eligibility Team. The teacher should be familiar with the child for at least a month.

The main guidelines for selection are as the following:

  1. Student assessment data should come from multiple sources.

  2. Both quantitative and qualitative measures should be considered.

  3. Both ability and achievement measures should be considered.

  4. Although students may have the cognitive resources for outstanding achievement in school, not all of them use their resources effectively in the classroom. Hence, students who show promise for outstanding academic achievement may also differ from their typical age peers in a number of non-cognitive attributes, such as motivation, curiosity, persistence, independence, and the nature and depth of their interests.

  5. Admission criteria should provide for the best possible match between the students' abilities and the demands of the program. 

The eligibility of a retest is usually on a case to case basis as determined by the school TAG Eligibility Team. You may need to find out from the school. Based on the scores, it appears that a retest should be given. You may also want to find out the reason for very low scores in Motivation as compared to the rest of the score. I would view motivation as an important criterion to succeed in a gifted and talented program.

To prepare for such test is something that is not possible in a short period of time with the variety of instruments used. The skills that are tested here are developed as a result of all school and life experiences, hence it spans over some time. It would be best to speak to someone in the school. Best of luck!


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